BEST OF DAYTON: 3 Italian restaurants every Daytonian must try

Mamma DiSalvo's famous lasagna. Source: Facebook
Mamma DiSalvo's famous lasagna. Source: Facebook

Mangia!

Dayton has no shortage of mouth-watering Italian food.

Pasta and meatball lovers can find the best Italian food at a few places around the Miami Valley. These three restaurants were voted tops in Dayton.com’s Best of Dayton 2019-20 people’s choice contest. The annual Dayton.com “Best of Dayton” poll allows readers to vote on the best that our community has to offer.

Here’s where to get the best pasta in town:

Photo from Mamma DiSalvo's Facebook page
Photo from Mamma DiSalvo's Facebook page

🥇WINNER: Mamma DiSalvo’s Risturante

This is a Dayton tradition dating back to 1979 and a true Dayton original and the winner of this category for five straight years.

Mamma DiSalvo's spaghetti sauce. TY GREENLEES/STAFF FILE PHOTO
Mamma DiSalvo's spaghetti sauce. TY GREENLEES/STAFF FILE PHOTO

Rinaldo “Papa” DiSalvo Sr. and his wife Elena “Mamma” DiSalvo opened an Italian restaurant in Kettering with the help of Elena's father Pasquale Berarado and their three sons, Nicola, Rinaldo Jr. and Roberto.

>> Reasons to love Mamma DiSalvo’s restaurant

The family-owned institution satisfies with classic eggplant parmigiano, spaghetti alla carbanara, calamari, toasted ravioli and linguini vongole.

The meatballs are also pretty amazing.

The family still cooks everything from scratch using only the finest quality ingredients available. You can even purchase the famous sauce to cook up an Italian masterpiece at home.

>> Founder of iconic local restaurant Mamma DiSalvo’s dies

WANT TO GO?

Where: 1375 E. Stroop Road, Kettering

WebsiteFacebook

🥈SECOND PLACE: The Spaghetti Warehouse  

Spaghetti Warehouse in Dayton offers a heaping pasta dish on Wednesdays for $5, including salad and breadsticks. (Source: Spaghetti Warehouse Facebook)
Spaghetti Warehouse in Dayton offers a heaping pasta dish on Wednesdays for $5, including salad and breadsticks. (Source: Spaghetti Warehouse Facebook)

It’s a place to go on your birthday, anniversary or before a theater show downtown. Since 1972, The Spaghetti Warehouse has been dishing out some of the best spaghetti and meatballs in town in an atmosphere perfect for celebrations of all kinds. It’s also famous for it’s 15-layer lasagne. Yes, 15 layers.

If you’re lucky, you can dine inside the trolley car inside the restaurant. That’s an experience that is fun for children and adults alike.

WANT TO GO?

36 W. Fifth St., Dayton

WebsiteFacebook

🥉THIRD PLACE: Giovanni’s

Giovanni's Seafood Ravioli with a Sherry Tomato Sauce
Giovanni's Seafood Ravioli with a Sherry Tomato Sauce

Giovanni’s has been a Fairborn Italian tradition for more than six decades.

Giovanni DiPasquale opened a small restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Miller in Fairborn in 1953. The restaurant moved to its present location at 215 W. Main St. in 1984.

Tony Spaziani comes from a family of restaurateurs. He is the grandson of an Italian immigrant, Guy Spaziani, who started the first Italian restaurant in Watertown, New York in the early 1900s. Guy opened a bakery in the 1920s and the recipe for the bread now served in Giovanni’s, according to the restaurant’s website.

Giovanni’s specializes in pizza but is just as famous for its Italian dishes and bread.

Giovanni’s is also an unexpected place for amazing chicken wings. Their Italian wings with creamy lemon pepper sauce won multiple awards at last summer’s Kickin’ Chicken Wing Festival.

>> An unexpected place to get great wings

WANT TO GO?

215 W. Main St., Fairborn

WebsiteFacebook

🏆PAST WINNERS: BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

2018

WINNER: Mamma DiSalvo’s

SECOND PLACE: Spaghetti Warehouse

THIRD PLACE: Franco’s Ristorante

2017

WINNER: Mamma DiSalvo’s

SECOND PLACE: Franco’s Ristorante Italiano

THIRD PLACE: Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen

2016

WINNER: Mamma DiSalvo's

SECOND PLACE: Jimmy's Italian Kitchen

THIRD PLACE: Tony's Italian Kitchen

2015

WINNER: Mamma DiSalvo's

SECOND PLACE: Deroma Italian Restaurant

THIRD PLACE: Franco's Ristorante